Posts Tagged ‘exhibition review’

Review: Nick Waplington/ Alexander McQueen: Working Process @ Tate Britain


Images courtesy of Nick Waplington / Tate Britain

In ‘Working Process’ photographer Nick Waplington gives a rare look behind the scenes of Alexander McQueen’s last collection.

Selected from the previously published book project ‘Working Process’, Waplington’s photographs capture the creative journey of McQueen’s final Autumn/Winter collection ‘Horn of Plenty’ in 2009, one of the most celebrated fashion collections in recent history.

The major exhibition at Tate Britain reveals McQueen’s working practice through a selection of hundred large-scale prints completed by Waplington and McQueen three months before the designer’s suicide.

For over six months Waplington followed McQueen and his team from the designer’s studio in Clerkenwell to the final catwalk show in Paris, documenting every step of the creation of ‘The Horn of Plenty! (Everything But the Kitchen Sink)’, taking on recycling as a guiding theme.

McQueen conceived ‘The Horn of Plenty’ collection as an iconoclastic retrospective of his career in fashion, reusing silhouettes and fabrics from his earlier collections and creating a catwalk set out of broken mirrors.

‘Working Process’ reveals a raw and unpolished side of the fashion world. Waplington juxtaposes candid images of McQueen’s creative process with close-up shots of landfill sites and recycling plants, featuring beer bottles, plastic bags and piles of newspapers.

The exhibition, as the photobook, resulting from this unique artistic collaboration creates a powerful commentary on destruction and creative renewal – themes at the heart of the ‘Horn of Plenty’ collection.

Nick Waplington/ Alexander McQueen: Working Process at Tate Britain until 17 May 2015


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Miriam is the Deputy Editor of LPD.

Marina Vitaglione introduces David Batchelor: Monochrome Archive @ The Whitechapel Gallery


Images courtesy of David Batchelor

“Monochrome is abstract art’s exemplary form, and you only find it in cities. You can’t find it in nature.”

It’s following this discovery that British artist David Batchelor set himself a challenge: taking a picture of every white square or rectangle he came across on his walks through various cities.

The result is no less than 500 images, taken from 1997 to 2012 around the globe, from London to Hong Kong via Berlin or Rome, all collected in this exhibition. The central white square is the only constant in this set of pictures, like a common denominator that the photographer’s eye keeps seeking everywhere he wanders.

The images keep interchanging on a multi-screen installation, while all the miniature prints are displayed on a lit table, with notes on when and where they were taken. The countless photographs appear to be a diary of Batchelor’s travels through the years, always looking for the abstract in the urban space.

At first, the white monochromes seem to give the exhibition cohesion and stability, but one soon realises that they are in fact ephemeral. As Batchelor himself points out, a white square is never going to stay white for long in a city: it will most likely get covered by ads, posters or writings. For this reason, the 500 pictures are unique: an abstract photography show not to be missed.

Whitechapel Gallery, 22 Dec 2014 – 3 May 2015

Marina Vitaglione 

MARINAMarina is a freelance journalist and culture writer based in London and an analogue photography enthusiast. She holds a Journalism degree from City University.​

Eva Stenram @ Siobhan Davies Studios reviewed by Helena Haimes


Images courtesy of Eva Stenram

To take in all of Swedish artist Eva Stenram’s works installed at Siobhan Davies Dance Studios, you have to take a pretty comprehensive tour of the seminal dance company’s extraordinary building. Its design fuses original elements of the original Victorian school — with its chipped tiles and bare brick — with the recently added elements of polished concrete, glass walls and taut cables.

The architecture is so immediately attention-grabbing that any practitioner who attempted to outshine it would fall horribly flat. Luckily, Stenram’s pieces — which are hung in corridors, balcony areas and even, yes, a disabled toilet compliment their surroundings without trying to compete with them. Acting as playful, absurd, and occasionally sinister commentaries on movement and the human form, they rise to the challenge of engaging with a potentially difficult, unconventional set-up.

This is the first time that Parts (2013 – ongoing) has been shown in the UK, and the exhibition showcases six pieces from the series. The artist has taken photographs of pin-up models from the 1960s, digitally erased everything but their legs, and printed the results onto fibre-based paper.

Stockinged and stilletoed, the single limbs are left leaning on a modernist sofa; loitering awkwardly on an enormous bed; or lying on a shag pile carpet in a Hitchcockian, wood-panelled room.

These images have more than an echo of the surrealist photographer Hans Bellmer, though they are marginally more humorous and certainly less perverse. Any eroticism that the originals 60s pin-ups may have contained is entirely diffused by the silly helplessness of a lone, racy leg still trying and failing to be seductive.

In Sternam’s world, a body part out of context becomes highly charged or just plain comical. In Arrangement (after Irving Klaw) (2015), installed outside one of the first floor rehearsal studios, three photographs are reframed by a passe-partout. You have to really peer in – peeping tom style – to see a flexed hand, beautifully-turned shin, or another one of those silly legs, this time clad in a clunky court shoe.

It feels like the artist is exposing the deep un-sexiness that can result from trying too hard to be sexy. In this way he highlights the fine line between looking sexually appealing and just, well, a bit pathetic.

Hold (2015) takes us on a destabilising tour of a single image using a series of slides shown on an archaic projector. In slow-mo, the work deliberately maps the process of looking at a pin-up photograph and so can be read as a meditation on the voyeuristic nature of looking. Score for A Sequence of Poses (2015) – a series of smaller photographs featuring more isolated, female limbs – makes a much heavier reference to choreographed movement. Described as ‘photographic scores’, they border on the filmic and the choice of an office-style, grey pinboard lends them a sense of a work in progress.

The pieces that operate most successfully here (works like the Parts series) utilise contemporary technologies to ask questions of historical material – just like the building that contains them.

Images courtesy of Siobhan Davis Dance.

Hel2015-02-03 17.55.32ena Haimes is a freelance arts and culture writer based in London. She studied at Goldsmiths College and the University of the West of England, and contributes to a range of publications as well as writing a visual arts blog.

 

Embracing Subjectivity in Jo Metson Scott’s The Grey Line by Sunil Shah


Images courtesy of Jo Metson Scott

Two years ago, Allan Sekula proposed that all ‘new documentary’ had a tendency towards ‘subjectivism’ and ‘authorial self-revelation’1. Jo Metson Scott’s five year The Grey Line is a good example of what Sekula meant by this seemingly contradictory statement. Contradictory, because documentary photography (or film for that matter), has typically been aligned with a detachment of the photographer from an area of study; the myth of objectivity and the delusion that one’s presence as witness does not influence the photographic results.

Sekula’s criticism of documentary photography is not new to the world of contemporary photography. Documentary photography is now readily accepted as art. Jo Metson Scott’s socio-politically motivated project is very much positioned within an art context. Her inquiry into armed forces personnel who have gone AWOL is explored subjectively with a distinctly personalised perspective. Metson Scott both recognises and subverts journalistic convention and codes of the ‘journalistic turn’ to create an yet very personal project.

The ‘journalistic turn’ can be defined as an approach which exposes research and constructs the work using text/image formats. Taryn Simon’s A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters and Jim Goldberg’s Open See are recent examples. These works are rooted in a desire to understand as opposed to simply capture the subject. They seek to expose complex narratives despite the medium’s inherent reductive characteristics.

Clearly visible in both works, are captions and short textual extracts which contextualise the material in a manner similar to the way magazine and newspaper articles append photographs to text. As daily consumers of media our eyes are well adjusted such juxtapositions of text and image. The authority and ethics that come from news media sources conform to our expectations of how the ‘truth’ is told. Yet Metson Scott precludes this by exposing her sketchbooks, which through their honesty and direct relationship to her research add an extra layer of authenticity to the work.

We don’t appear to be looking at highly mediated, edited or polished work; instead, we are taken through Metson Scott’s own diaristic entries and processes. An example of how self-reflexivity might add authenticity to documentary practice.

Does empathy drive documentary photography or indeed our desire to look at Metson Scott’s work? Perhaps it does so through this humanitarian connection with the unfortunate experiences of those who have been overlooked by society and ostracised unfairly. This work shows how war photography has shifted its direction towards home, where survival for these ex-soldiers takes on a different form. This work brings the effects of war to our doorsteps.

Metson Scott’s subjectivity is projected onto us. It shines a light on the subject without victimisation and sensationalist mediation. Documentary in this way – by embracing subjectivity – renews its validity in the face of its own potential collapse through changing attitudes to authority and systems of power.

We can’t be sure of what it feels like to be one of these former soldiers who chose not to participate; photographs alone can’t possibly do that. But we can be sure of Metson Scott’s work, through sensitive and careful study, allows us into her subjective. In the end, we want to know and feel for the people she has given a voice to.

1.Sekula, Allan, ‘Eleven Premises on Documentary and a Question in Mutations, Perspectives on Photography, Paris Photo/Steidl, 2011, p. 265.

photo (8)Sunil Shah is an artist and curator based in Oxford, UK. He is interested in the politics of photographic representation and conceptual post-documentary practices with relation to history, memory and identity. He has undertaken several curatorial projects including Making Home at the Royal Geographic Society, London for the HLF funded Exiles Project and acted as co-curator for Brighton Photo Fringe Open ’13. He holds degrees from Coventry University and the University of Westminster. www.sunilshah.info

 

Masses of Labourers: A View on Edward Burtynsky by Fangfei Chen


Images courtesy of Edward Burtynsky

I always wondered why international photographers are drawn to the depiction of Chinese factories. Are they shocked by their scale? Do they wish to portray factory workers as robots? Or is it something else?

When I first saw this photograph by Edward Burtynsky I was attracted by its colour, the way it was framed and its interesting perspective. Bright yellow unites the image on a whole, from the uniforms, to the factory flags, and finally the factory itself.

The people are presented as part of mechanism. They are integrated, or perhaps, are forced to integrate. The bright yellow of the workers’ uniforms advances into the distance creating an illusion that the image is endless.

Growing up in China, Marxism was taught from a young age. However, until very recently, I had never read Marx’s original works. In schools Marxism is reduced down to small quotes on textbooks. Rather than reading the original text, we were asked to recite particular passages. Had I read Marx’s original texts I might have understood what this photograph was edging towards. Now, when looking at this photograph, a line from The Communist Manifesto (1872)

“Masses of labourers, crowed into the factory, are organised like soldiers. As privates of the industrial army they are placed under the command of a perfect hierarchy of officers and sergeants. Not only are they slaves of the bourgeois class, and of the bourgeois State; they are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine by the overlooker, and, and above all, by the individual bourgeois manufacturer himself.”

In many ways this quote could form the caption to Burtynsky’s photograph. Or maybe Burtynsky had this quote in his mind when he released the shutter? For me, the photograph visually encapsulates the exploitation of workers. And in the end, there’s a strange irony in the fact this image was taken in a country that instills Marxism in its children.

Fangfei is a Ph.D candidate of History at the University of Essex, with a primary focus on the research of photographic materials. She is from China and has an MA in Arts Market Appraisal from Kingston University, and an MA from the University of St. Andrews in the History of Photography. She has worked as Assistant Manager in the Beijing Huachen Photography Department, as well as working for several photographic archives such as in the University of St. Andrews. Her interviews and reviews have been published by Art Gallery, Art Guide and The World of Photography, among other publications. Her interests include the history of Chinese photography, the photographic market, management,  festivals and installation.

Constructing Worlds @ The Barbican reviewed by Cristina Calvo

The photographic medium is in a unique position to study, analyse and admire architecture and since its inception architecture has been an important subject for the photographer. Constructing Worlds investigates this symbiotic relationship between photography and modern architecture and for anyone interested in either field, it’s a must-see.

Curated by Alona Pardo and Elias Redstone, the exhibition comprises the work of 18 prominent artists working from the 1930s up until the present day. The show commences with the work of Berenice Abbott who documented the rapid growth of Manhattan and its surrounding areas from 1935 to 1939. The striking juxtaposition of modern skyscrapers and classical buildings is shown off to great effect.

Around the same time Abbott shot these images, Walker Evans was embarking on his documentation of the Great American Depression for the Farm Security Administration. Evans’ work tells of the poverty-stricken families and individuals affected by the crisis and how the Depression manifested in the landscape of the times.

After the WWII, architecture began to draw inspiration from modern structures, furniture and lifestyle. The work of Julius Shulman clearly captured this trend in the works he published in Arts and Architecture magazine during the 50s and 60s. It is also worth mentioning the exhaustive documentation of Le Courbusier’s architectural project Chandigarh, India, by Lucien Hervé during the same period.

By the end of the 60s and throughout the 70s, photographers such as Ed Ruscha, Stephen Shore, Thomas Struth and the Bechers turned their cameras to the suburban, the industrial and the everyday. Perhaps influenced by the work of Walker Evans and Eugène Atget, these photographers focused on the banal as a means of representing cultural, economic and social values.

Form, light and shadow took on an elevated importance in the years that would follow for photographers such as Luigi Ghirri, Hélène Binet, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Luisa Lambri.

The photographs of Andreas Gursky, Simon Norfolk, Guy Tillim, Bas Princen, Nadav Kander and Iwan Baan frequently portrayed ruined buildings, sublime images of industrial transformation and digitally manipulated spaces. In this focus, they elucidate the social, political and economic consequences of globalisation.

Large photographic prints dominate the show and invite the viewer to both indulge in minute detail as well as to step back and take in the entire image. If the show can be criticised on one point, it is that the space given for Kanders work is insufficient in size to show his work to its best advantage. Yet overall, this is a beautifully curated, first-class exhibition and well worth a visit.

The exhibition runs until 11 January 2015

Cristina Calvo (b. 1982) is a visual artist based in London. She holds a degree from University of Westminster where she is teaching a short course in photography. Part of Cristina’s photographic practice is related to the analysis of the urban environment through the architecture and social behaviour. Her work In Out and Around was select for PHE13 in Madrid. In her more recent work Cristina explores trauma, identity and disease.

Black Chronicles II @ Autograph ABP reviewed by Magali Avezou

images courtesy of Autograph ABP

Black Chronicles II is the first exhibition to be launched in conjunction with The Missing Chapter, a research project which seeks to explore the photographic narratives of migration and cultural diversity in relation to Britain’s colonial past. Presented by Autograph ABP – a foundation devoted to researching black narratives – the show displays more than 200 photographs exploring black identity in Victorian Britain.

The walls of the ground floor are painted black and display 55 images by the London Stereoscopic Company. These images are part of the Hulton Archive, a division of Getty Images. 30 portraits depict the Africa choir that toured Britain between 1891-93. On the second floor, over 100 cartes-de-visites picture visiting performers, dignitaries, servicemen, missionaries, and students. All the photographs were taken in England before 1938.

Among the images displayed are painterly black and white portraits showing very confident sitters. These images stand in stark contrast to the propaganda representations of black subjects which were prevalent before the 2nd world-war. The exhibition Bon Baiser des Colonies, showed at Les Rencontres d’Arles last summer – showed a very different representation of black people under colonial rule shot by French photographs at the beginning of the XIXth century in North-Africa and make for a striking contrast.

The portraits displayed in this exhibition are dignifying. The subjects are well dressed, some wearing suits and hats and others wearing luxurious African dress. They adopt confident postures, elegant gestures and self- contained gazes. These portraits were taken at a time in which studio portraiture was the preserve of a privileged minority. As argued by the curators Renée Mussai and Mark Sealy, this fact raises questions regarding the ideological conditions in which these images were produced and what messages they intend to communicate.

As stated in the press release, Black Chronicles II “redresses persistent ‘absence’ within the historical record.” Through displaying these images, the curators point to an alternative history of black identity and raising questions about the place of the subjects in the colonial order and in British society. The show and programme, is the beginning of an exciting task of research for historians to interpret this impressive material.

Image credit: London Stereoscopic Company studios, 1891. Courtesy of © Hulton Archive/Getty Images

securedownload 2Magali is a London-based arts professional specialising in photography. She holds degrees in History and History of Arts (DEA, Grenoble II France), Art Management (DESS, Paris X France) and Photography (MA, London College of Communication, UK). She is has worked for  for art magazines The Eyes and FIFA Annuel and held positions at Troika Editions, Payne||Shurvell and Koenig books. She is interested in philosophical and anthropological notions of displacement and exoticism and its representation in contemporary photography. 


© 2019 New York Photography Diary. All rights reserved. Background image: Ea Vasko Reflections of the Ever-Changing #32, 2010, digital c-print, diasec (matte); Video image: image by Instaberlinerin, artwork by Cecile Wesolowski, pictured Denia Kazakou/ Redd Gallery; Festival image by Vanessa Bouziges